Hamilton Centre MPP criticized for controversial statement on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Published October 11, 2023 at 12:27 pm
Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles has asked Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama to remove her controversial social media post on the Israeli-Hamas conflict, a statement that others have criticized for being anti-Semitic and for failing to mention the Hamas terrorists’ surprise massacre of civilians in Israel over the weekend.
“This statement does not reflect our Party’s position, which is articulated in our federal party’s statement,” she said in a statement to media Tuesday night. “MPP Jama’s statement was not approved by our Caucus. I have asked that she retract her statement, and state clearly that she decries any violence against both Israeli and Palestinian people and that she agrees with the federal NDP’s stance.”
Although Jama still didn’t remove her post, she apologized and issued a statement on X after 3:30 p.m. that she stands by her party and believes that “violence against civilians is never justified, and that there is no military solution to this conflict.”
“To be clear, I unequivocally condemn terrorism by Hamas on thousands of Israeli civilians,” she wrote. “I also believe that Israel’s bombardment and siege on civilians in Gaza, as was also noted by the United Nations, is wrong.”
Stiles’s communications team told inthehammer.com that an update would be coming shortly on the situation.
Jama wrote that her statement allowed her to reflect on her role as a politician “who is participating in this settler colonial system, and I ask that all politicians do the same.” She added the hashtag #FreePalastine in her X post yesterday (Oct. 10).
Calling for “an immediate ceasefire” to the conflict, she wrote that the generations-long occupation of Palestine is “apartheid.” She included a quote that apartheid is “a political regime intentionally prioritizing fundamental political, legal, and social rights to one group over another in the same space on the basis of racial-national-ethnic identity.”
She said apartheid is happening in real time “through the continued violation of human rights in Gaza through the use of white phosphorus chemicals, the withholding of access to food, fuel, electricity and water, and the destruction of the only exit from Gaza that isn’t controlled by the State of Israel (the Rafah border).”
Jama urged for “an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation” of the conflict.
“For 75 years, violence and retaliation rooted in settler colonialism have taken the lives of far too many innocent people,” she wrote. “We must look to the solution to this endless cycle of death and destruction: end all occupation of Palestinian land and end apartheid. Canada must hold true to its history of peacemaking, and refrain from military intervention. My heart genuinely goes out to all those impacted by this on-going violence.”
In Stiles’s response to Jama’s post, the leader of the official opposition NDP wrote: “The terrorist attacks by Hamas on thousands of innocent Israeli civilians are unjustifiable and must be condemned unequivocally.
“We call for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation to prevent further bloodshed in Israel and Gaza, and for a political solution to bring lasting peace to the region.”
Jama received backlash on social media for her post, including from those who accused her of being anti-semitic.
“We have an MPP in Hamilton Centre (Sarah Jama) with a history of blatant antisemitism and some radical leftists on council,” wrote Victoria Mancinelli, director of public relations, communications, marketing and strategic partnerships for labour union LiUNA, on X. “Their silence has been deafening. They are few, but they are there. It’s appalling and it’s dangerous. They are the very same who are the first to call for “no hate no violence” yet here they are spreading hate and violence and doubling down on their justification of terrorism. Her recent, carefully calculated statement is disgustingly disappointing but not surprising. Shameful representation in our city.”
Hamas, whose Arabic acronym stands for “Islamic Resistance Movement,” is a militant Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement that governs Gaza Strip and aims to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. Hamas is classified as a terrorist group by countries such as Canada, Israel and the United States.
Hamas took the Israelis by surprise with what’s been called its largest attack in years, reportedly killing at least 250 and wounding over 1,500 in southern Israel with attacks over the weekend. Israeli retaliatory airstrikes have reportedly killed more than 1,000 people in the Gaza territory and 1,200 were killed in Israel. The gunmen also took Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage.
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— Sarah Jama (she/her) (@SarahJama_) October 10, 2023